1,800 laptops given to students with remote-access webcams and spyware: This is so wrong in so many ways,
the superintendent of Lower Merion, sent another letter to district parents, acknowledging that the district had turned on laptop cameras 42 times thus far in the 2009-2010 school year. As he had earlier in the week, McGinley again said that the webcams were activated only as part of an effort to locate stolen or missing machines. Just 18 of the missing MacBooks were recovered or found after the cameras were turned on.
McGinley also said that only two members of the district’s technology department have access to the theft-recovering feature, and expressly denied that the assistant principal who confronted Robbins was allowed to trigger the camera activation.
The district gave the laptops to students but didn’t bother tell them they were going to be spied on, or even that the laptops had the capability
McGinley has admitted that students and parents were not told of the computer tracking feature or its remote camera activation capability. “There was no explicit notification that the laptop contained the security software,” he said in his letter of Friday. “This notice should have been given and we regret that was not done.”
Tim Cavanaugh calls it the lower pervian school district,
I’m predisposed to think the plaintiffs have a strong case with regard to privacy, informed consent and the other issues here, but mostly I am tarnaciously thunderstruck by McGinley’s simple lack of judgment. I don’t remember the Lower Merion kids of a generation ago as being balls of fire, so maybe they have become lawless enough to need constant surveillence these days. (Though I don’t understand why a school would even want to be taking responsibility for kids at home, when teachers already bellyache about how hard it is to have responsibility for them during school hours.)
But the country is so crazed by child porn it’s willing to prosecute children as child pornographers. McGinley’s approval of the webcam program (which the district says was administered by two employees) is appallingly careless management. You could get your mom and dad, or your mom and your mom’s boyfriend, or whoever the two people are you trust the most, and put them in charge of this program, but only after requiring them to convert to Mormonism and obtain Cheyenne Mountain security clearances, and I can guarantee you: there would be actionable jailbait images on your server by third period. I hope the FBI gets a good look.
First the school strip searches; now the peeping-tom laptops.
The idea of privacy has disappeared from the American mind. And our children are in the front lines.
Let’s hope this is declared illegal, too.